Weather Forecast


ROGER WILTZ: Thoughts about Patriots, a survival book

I just finished a book that made me think about my survival skills or lack of them.

Want to shake the winter doldrums and get your blood flowing? Get the boat out! We are heading into a time of year when open-water walleye fishing picks up. Much of it is done beneath the big dams at Fort Thompson and Pickstown, but don't sell short the open water further down stream.

I like small, lively minnows on tiny chartreuse jigs, eighth or sixteenth ounce in weight, fished very slowly with light, limp line. Don't be afraid to use four-pound test. Equally important is keeping things quiet. This can be hit or miss fishing with a lot of miss, but pick a comfortable day, and everyone has a good time.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first time I saw the movie Jaws, you couldn't have paid me enough to go swimming at Miami Beach. Well, I just completed reading a novel that left me with a similar dose of irrational fear.

A good friend recently handed me a copy of Patriots by James Wesley Rawles, and suggested that I read it. Rawles is a former Army Intelligence officer who appears to be well versed in survival topics -- especially weapons, food, and medicine.

Before I get into this, know that I am not radical survival freak. I'm not recommending that you read the book, but I do think that Rawles presents some thought-provoking ideas that are worth stashing away in the backs of our brains.

Patriots, published in 2006, is a fiction novel. The opening scene depicts an America whose currency is worthless. Excessive inflation was brought about by a multi-billion dollar bank bailout funded with phony paper. Rawles' ability to predict this single bit of current government mismanagement made the book scary enough to keep me awake at night. On the positive side, the book is a potpourri of practical survival information.

When it comes to survival techniques, I believe that many South Dakotans possess more skills than the average citizen because of our hunter and fishermen backgrounds. We can dress and process game. Many are proficient at meat preservation. We know how to garden, and we know how to can. ... Or should I say, Betsy knows how to can.

If you would have asked me about practical long-term food storage before I read this novel, I would not have mentioned storing rice and beans in five gallon plastic containers.

It's good food that is low in calories. Wheat was also mentioned, but there were some weevil problems.

Rawles made me think about water. What would I do about water in Wagner if our water district couldn't keep our lines flowing. It made me envy farm friends who own their own wells. However, if lack of electricity was the source of the problem, how many farmers still have the needed hand pumps or windmills to get that water up? Generators are great, but like any engine they can and do run out of gas.

I like firearms and so does Rawles. He is very partial to certain handguns including the 1911 Colt .45 automatic. He is also a big fan of the Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, the Ruger 10/22 rifle, and the Remington Model 870 pump shotgun. Like firearms, certain knives also captured Rawles' attention. He also referred to the Leatherman's all-purpose tools. It made me feel good as I own some of these.

Rawles made a point of mentioning that diesel fuel stores a lot longer than gasoline without breaking down. He gives gasoline a two-year life if Stabil is added, where diesel fuel will last five years or longer with the treatment of bacteria. I didn't know that diesel fuel is a medium for bacteria.

Wilderness medicine is a favorite topic of the author. He talks about life without a dentist, and can't say enough about the importance of brushing and flossing teeth. However, there was a tooth pliers in camp that received periodic use. When it came to pain, Tylenol was the first line of action.

Blood transfusions were a topic. So long as blood types are compatible, we can go from one arm to another with a tube and a set of needles. The main problem with this, and something I never thought about, is that there is no way of knowing how much blood has been drawn from the donor. I also learned that cayenne pepper, if eaten in some quantity, will slow the bleeding in a wound.

Today's economic woes have brought about comparison to the 1930s. I don't know if any of this speculation is valid, but Rawles said something that bothers me, and I will quote him.

"Our economy, our transportation system, communications systems -- everything really -- is so much more complex and vulnerable than back in the 1930s. And our society is not nearly so well-behaved."

I'll say "amen" to that behavior part.

*See you next week.